Nicole Dollanganger: Angles of
Porn Death Edit
The Tarot Issue #1
Released: October 20, 2016
By: Esme Rose
Death is the most inevitable part of existence yet it's so narrowly talked about for fear of saying the wrong thing or seeming too invested in the unknown. As many of us have come close death [through] illness or experiencing it through a loved one, it shouldn't be something we are scared to communicate. Instead we should treat it as a forced to be reckoned with and something to be expressed - if only to be less afraid.
Ontario based singer/songwriter Nicole Dollanganger uses her medium to express the most explicit details of personal experience and share the most honest outlook on trauma and veracity I've ever heard musically. The layers of Nicole collide like an angel coming face to face with reality and the darkness lies on a bed of the most fragile petals. Breaching the subject of death to her own accord, Nicole's lyrics give a nihilist understanding that brings an internal feeling of ease and delicacy to the unexplored act that's a natural part of existing.
Hook Magazine: Hi Nicole, you collectively sing about death a lot, is it emotionally draining writing these lyrics or performing these songs or does it [come] more naturally due to the personal nature of your music?
Nicole Dollanganger: It's mainly revealing. I feel better when I can flesh things out, so talking about something I'm scared of feels good and natural. If I didn't, the thoughts would probably accumulate and crush me.
HM: Lyrics such as "death is a beginning, not an end" suggest you aren't afraid of death. Is this because of the experiences you've been through or have you accepted it as inevitable?
ND: Funnily enough, that song was about my fear of death! I was spending a lot of time with a friend who is very eccentric and extraordinary - and he was always talking about realms of consciousness, ghosts, spiritual parasites, energy, human souls, the relationship between death and dreams, and so on. It was a breath of fresh air for me because I was always bogged down with the more organic side of death: the disintegration and decomposition of bodies, which seems so painfully definite, and he was always sort of like, "no, you have it all wrong - death is the beginning." His belief in things greater and beyond didn't necessarily rub off on me, but they really comforted me. It was exciting to think about.
HM: From listening to your lyrics, it almost seems that you treat love and death as similar substances. Do you see links between the two?
ND: Yes absolutely. I think as human beings we all want to believe in a greater purpose, and I know some people find that in religion and spirituality, and then others like me, who don't have religion, find that in love and also in sex. I think sex subconsciously might remind some people of death as they come to terms with being this biological creature with instinct to procreate like any other animal. So they push the idea of, "no, no, it's not just sex, it's making love" to find a more meaningful purpose in it. I do that myself. And when I was a lonely and horny teenager, the idea of love became my end-all-be-all. Maybe novels and movies are partially to blame for that. For me, I think it filled the hole where others have spirituality, and maybe sometimes skews my overall understanding, making love [seems] way more spiritual than it is.
HM: Although you often mask the content of your songs with saccharine harmonies and beautiful imagery, do you ever worry you'll be labelled as 'the girl that sings about death and illness' or are you confident in your work enough to know it doesn't define you?
ND: I think if I started worrying about how people digest or micromanage my music, I'd never stop, So I just don't. One thing I'm really grateful for is that I'm always very certain of what I do. I know if I like it or if I don't right off the bat. So that makes it easy to just put what makes sense to me out there. I never really think, "well I like this, but other people won't..." it's always either, "I love this so much, I don't care what anyone else thinks" or "this is trash" and I get rid of it fast.
HM: I think you're modestly unaware of how much your music and lyrics mean to people who've had similar experiences. How does it make you feel [to know] that there's fans out there who feel saved by your work?
ND: There aren't any words for it, really. It's an incredible feeling because it establishes a special kind of relationship and connection. I'll suddenly feel so close to someone I don't even know, but feel very certain about that. I've met a few lifelong friends this way, as well.
HM: Do you think there's the assumption that you can't like hardcore if you're girly? Have you experienced stigma towards the music you listen to?
ND: Speaking only of my experiences, growing up, hardcore acts were predominantly male, but it was never an all male crowd. It's always been pretty even and I mean... these girls are paying admission to come in, they're buying merchandise to support the bands they like... I don't think many musicians male or otherwise would ever take this for granted or give a girl flack for digging and supporting what they do. I've never felt stigmatized for the music I've liked based on my gender.
ND: Those two songs will probably stand out on the record anyway, as they were co-written by my guitarist Matt. Both times, we were just hanging out and he was like, 'hey, can I show you a thing I wrote on guitar?' and my response both times was 'this is incredible, can I do something with it?'. The rest of the record was first written the way all my other songs were, alone in my home. But I'm after something definitely heavier and weirder than previous stuff, production wise... It's really fun experimenting between soft and hard.
HM: What's next for you?
ND: Right now I'm just working on the new record, which I'm really excited about! I'm also touring as support for Alex G (in Canada) and then Elvis Depressedly and Teen Suicide's co-headlining tour (throughout the USA). These are all musicians that I've been a passionate fan of for years, so it's a magical thing that this is happening.